Final Fantasy XIV Online News From Fan Fest: FF15 Crossover Start Date And More Revealed

Today at Day 2 of the Final Fantasy Fan Festival in Tokyo, Square Enix made a series of announcements about Final Fantasy XIV Online, including the start-date for the game’s crossover event with Final Fantasy XV.

The crossover event, which was announced previously, is called A Nocturne For Heroes, and it begins April 16. This news was confirmed during a behind-the-scenes “Letter From the Producer” event featuring producer Naoki Yoshida. The event brings a number of Final Fantasy XV gear and items to FFXIV, including the game’s first-ever four-player mount. You guessed it, the mount is the Regalia, which is the car the main characters drive in FFXV. The other items include FFXV-themed gear and a hairstyle from the game.

In other news, Square Enix confirmed that Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.56, which is called “A Requiem for Heroes Part 2,” will launch very soon–it’s due out Tuesday, March 26. Coming after that is Patch 4.57, which adds the new World Visit system, and it’s launching on April 23.

You can see a full schedule of important dates in the graphic below, which covers all the big proceedings leading up to the release of Shadowbringers on July 2 (or June 28 with Early Access):

Yoshida and main scenario writer/world lore creator Banri Oda answered a series of fan questions during the panel covering a range of topics. You can re-watch the panel here on Twitch.

Fan Fest Day 1 yesterday brought a lot of big news as well, including the next race for Shadowbringers, a new raid, more screenshots, and a fresh trailer–get all the details here.

Keep checking back with GameSpot for more from Fan Fest today and Monday, including a gallery of some of the best cosplay we’ve seen. Disclosure: Square Enix paid for GameSpot’s flight to Tokyo and accomodations.

Report Says Apple To Reveal New Gaming Service Soon, But It’s Different

One of the big announcements that Apple could make during its reveal event on Monday is a new video game service. According to Bloomberg, Apple is creating a “premium games subscription” service for the App Store. Unlike the recently announced Google Stadia, or PlayStation Now and Microsoft’s xCloud, Apple’s service is not cloud-based.

Instead, it will focus on iPhones and iPads and bundle together paid games from different developers that consumers can access for a monthly fee,” Bloomberg reported.

One source said Apple will pay developers based on how much time users spend playing their title. The report goes on to claim that the service would only feature paid games, not free-to-play titles. The report also says the service may not be announced on Monday, but instead during its developer conference in June. That timing would be intriguing, as it’s just before E3.

According to analyst Serkan Toto, this kind of package offering is already available in Japan. He also points out that, if free-to-play games are indeed excluded, then Nintendo’s upcoming Mario Kart Tour wouldn’t be eligible. As you may recall, Apple partnered with Nintendo in a big way to promote and release the free-to-play Mario game Super Mario Run.

Go to Bloomberg to get the full story.

An earlier report suggested the March 25 Apple news conference will include the formal reveal of Apple’s plans for its own Netflix-style TV streaming service. All should become clear soon.

Jordan Peele’s Us Movie: Ending Explained And All Your Questions Answered

Wait, what just happened?

In our review, we called out Us’s horror pedigree. “If Get Out was a victim of the ‘is it really horror?’ question, Jordan Peele made sure Us wouldn’t fall for the same trick. This is a horror movie through and through, full of references to everything from Friday the 13th and Night of the Living Dead to more recent fare like Black Swan.”

But for all that Jordan Peele’s latest movie straddles horror genre lines, it’s also arguably a pretty intense mystery. It’s full of puzzling questions and riddles drenched in symbolism laid out for audiences to work through. It’s definitely the sort of movie you’ll need to process a little once you’ve seen it–and we think that’s a great thing

So naturally, that means we also we left the theater with some burning questions–everything from just what the movie is really about, to who the villains actually are. We did our best to find all the answers we could–though some required a little more thinking than others.

Obviously, major Us spoilers from here on out, so please, watch yourself.

Why the rabbits?

Us is a movie full of symbolism and its cute, fluffy set dressing is no exception. The rabbits that populate the Tethered’s subterranean world have a two-fold meaning that can be tricky to pick up on. First, there’s the obvious “rabbit hole” theme, evoking a sort of sinister Alice in Wonderland. The Tethered live in a hidden world that Adelaide uncovers by literally following a white rabbit underground, just like Alice. Plus, rabbits–like other elements in the movie–symbolize duality in their signature ears.

The second is a bit more esoteric, and a lot more historical. There’s an island off the coast of Japan nicknamed “Usagi Jima” or “Rabbit Island” that is famous for being, well, overrun with rabbits. It’s all pretty cute, until you look at how and why they all got there. The island used to be a chemical weapons manufacturing plant back in World War II, which kept rabbits as test subjects for deadly toxins like mustard gas. When the Americans took the island, they thought they killed the remaining rabbits, but some survived the cull and went on to breed and overtake the island with an otherwise completely unchecked population. An experimental group, left abandoned and forgotten, growing in numbers in an isolated area is a pretty clear thematic link to the story of the Tethered.

Why the red jumpsuits?

There are a few possibilities when it comes to the Tethered and their jumpsuits–aside from just looking spooky. In the real world, we use both uniform and color to differentiate ourselves into groups both positively and negatively, from schools to prisons. The fact that the Tethered are all beholden to a specific uniform gives them a clear differentiation, and alienation, from the people on the topside.

Of course, we do know that Red picked the jumpsuits as part of her coup, so depending on your reading of just who the Tethered are supposed to symbolize, the uniform could either be a mark of pride or shame.

Why the scissors?

In a movie that’s all about duality, what better weapon than one that’s basically two identical knives bolted together?

Sometimes it really is just that easy.

What are the Tethered, really?

Red explains this pretty ambiguously during a monologue, so here’s our best theory as to just what she meant. The Tethered were an abandoned cloning project that, apparently, first figured out how to clone animals before moving on to humans. The project was successful in re-creating a human body, but it couldn’t duplicate a human “soul,” meaning the Tethered were, essentially, bound to the people they were copied from.

Of course, this is where we have to accept that Us is not only a horror thriller, it’s also a sci-fi story. The first real life clone of a mammal was Dolly the sheep back in 1996, but we know that whatever project birthed the Tethered had to have been both established and completely abandoned before 1986–meaning it probably went back as far as a conflict like Vietnam, to give us some idea of just how many generations of Tethered have been living underground, and for how long.

Interestingly, there seems to be some amount of variation between just how linked the Tethered are to their doubles. Pluto seems to copy all of Jason’s movements, even when those movements are potentially fatal to him, but other Tethered seem considerably more independent. This could be because Pluto and Jason are the youngest set of doubles in the bunch–maybe the link lessens over time. Or maybe Pluto and Jason are just special.

Did Adelaide and Red remember their childhoods?

The simple answer is yes. Adelaide’s shock and confusion at the Tethered’s arrival has nothing to do with the fact she didn’t know they were there–she remembers switching places with Red, the same way Red remembers being kidnapped. Adelaide isn’t the victim in a home invasion movie, she’s the villain of Red’s revenge story–and she knows it. That’s why we see so much of Adelaide’s mounting anxiety and willingness to kill, as well as what could be seen as remorse when she kills the Tethered children. This is a secret she’s been keeping from her family for a long, long time.

Red, similarly, knows exactly what was taken from her. That’s why she was the one to organize the Tethered in the first place.

Why can Red talk when the other Tethered can’t?

When Red and Adelaide switched places, each of them acclimated to their new environments. We know the Tethered don’t naturally speak English–Adelaide couldn’t speak when she first arrived on the surface–but communicate in a series of grunts and growls. Overtime, Red retained the English she knew but learned to speak the language of the Tethered (albeit with difficulty, since the choking during the switch apparently did permanent damage), the same way Adelaide learned English but retained some of her more feral instincts. Remember when she murders the remaining twin? Did you catch the sounds she was making? Jason sure did–and they were strange enough to scare him.

Why Hands Across America?

In the narrative itself, the Hands Across America commercial is one of the last things Red experiences in the surface world before she’s taken by Adelaide, so it makes sense that it remains something of a fixation for her.

Historically, Hands Across America was a demonstration meant to bring attention to poverty and homelessness in the country that eventually netted about $15 million dollars worth of charitable donations in 1986. It obviously didn’t end poverty or homelessness, but it certainly did make a statement–which, really, is exactly what the Tethered are trying to do. Their goal is simply to be noticed in a way that no one can ignore.

What did Red mean by “you could have taken me with you”?

There was some confusion here at GameSpot when it came to just how Red and Adelaide’s switch worked–Red tells Adelaide that she “could have taken her” when Adelaide left, which at first seems to imply that Red doesn’t remember ever living on the surface. But upon further reflection, we’ve realized that this line is actually a bit more complex than that.

Red resents Adelaide for leaving her behind with the Tethered when, in her mind, they both could have easily left the fun house together as children. There was no real reason that Adelaide and Red had to switch places, other than fear and a knee-jerk reaction. In fact, the entire conflict of the movie could have been circumvented if Adelaide and Red would have just teamed up as children, rather than fought one another–which is a major part of the message.

What is Jeremiah 11:11?

There’s a man with a sign saying “Jeremiah 11:11” on the boardwalk during Adelaide’s childhood–a motif we later see repeated a few times, eventually culminating in the drifter’s Tethered doppleganger with “11:11” carved into his forehead.

The actual Bible verse doesn’t need much explanation. It goes like this: “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.”

Basically, it’s the Biblical version of Rorschach’s “and I’ll whisper ‘no'” monologue from Watchmen, which could really double as Red’s Tethered manifesto. Symbolism!

Nintendo Finally Does VR, In The Most Nintendo Way Possible

Despite the numerous innovations it’s been responsible for over the past three decades, Nintendo has also been notoriously slow to adapt to certain trends. The company was, after all, the last to earnestly embrace online gaming, and it seemed that would likewise be the case with virtual reality–which made the announcement of Labo VR, the fourth kit in its growing line of DIY games/toys, such a surprise. And while it may not be as sophisticated as a true VR headset, Labo VR is the most compelling Labo kit yet, although your enjoyment will largely depend on your own creativity.

Like Nintendo’s previous three Labo packages, the VR kit comes with its own game card and an assortment of cardboard sheets, stickers, rubber bands, and other crafting materials with which to assemble its various Toy-Cons. The full suite of projects includes the Blaster, Bird, Camera, Elephant, and Wind Pedal, plus a set of VR Goggles that works in conjunction with the other peripherals. The goggles are the key to the experience; they house the Switch console and slot into almost all of the other Toy-Cons, allowing you to play their corresponding mini-games in VR (though each activity also supports the option to be played in 2D).

What’s most immediately impressive about this setup is that it doesn’t require any additional hardware or accessories to work, as PlayStation VR and other headsets do; you simply slide the Switch into the VR Goggles, then insert that into the Toy-Con you wish to use. We had reservations about holding the Switch up in what is effectively just a cardboard viewfinder, but the goggles feel surprisingly sturdy, and all of the Toy-Cons feature safety caps to lock it into place, ensuring the console doesn’t accidentally slip out during use. That said, we’d still caution parents to supervise their children when playing with the Toy-Cons to prevent any mishaps.

Of course, without additional cameras or input devices, the Labo VR kit offers a more limited virtual reality experience than proper VR headsets. Even so, head tracking felt accurate and responsive in our time with the kit, and all of the mini-games we played made good use of the 360-degree view the VR Goggles afford. If things do become wonky, however, you can recalibrate the Switch by removing it from the goggles, setting it on a flat surface, and pressing an on-screen button.

Each of the five new Toy-Cons works with a different pair of activities. We only got to try a handful of these during our hands-on time with the kit, but the mini-games we did play seemed to suffer from the same problem as those in the Variety kit; namely, they didn’t appear to offer much in the way of depth, so it’s difficult to imagine spending more than a few minutes with them. That said, the games were amusing, and the Toy-Cons are intended to be passed between players, so your mileage will vary if you have family members or other loved ones to share the experience with. Of the bunch, the Blaster offered the most traditional gaming experience–a simple on-rails light gun game in which you shoot an army of adorable aliens that have invaded a city. The Blaster is also used to play a secondary competitive mini-game that is essentially a VR version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos, pitting two players against each other in a race to fire food into the hippos’ mouths.

Another highlight was Bird, which has players soaring about an island in search of hatchlings to feed. The Camera Toy-Con lets you snap pictures of marine life in a simple underwater photography game, while the Elephant features the most unexpected activity–an art program that allows you to draw 3D artwork by maneuvering its trunk. However, the trunk’s limited range of movement made this particular activity the least appealing of all the ones we tried. By contrast, the most memorable sensory experience came from the Wind Pedal. Like the pedal Toy-Con from the Labo Vehicle kit, this peripheral rests on the floor, but pressing down on it causes a fan to swing upward and blow air into your face. The object of its mini-game is to press down on the pedal at the right time to make a frog leap over stacks of balls that are fired from clockwork bears. The game itself is a rudimentary timing challenge, but feeling the gusts of air against your face as you see yourself ascending into the sky was a trippy sensation.

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On top of each Toy-Con’s dedicated mini-games, Labo VR also includes a mode called VR Plaza, which features 64 bite-sized VR activities to play. These run the gamut from side-scrolling platformers to puzzle games, and each one was created using the series’ flexible Garage function, which lets you program your own Labo activities. This is where the game’s lasting appeal lies, as you can tinker about with the entire selection of pre-made games, editing them as you please or even creating your own VR games.

The Nintendo Labo VR kit launches on April 12. This time around, Nintendo is offering the kit in two different configurations. The full bundle retails for $80 and includes all six Toy-Cons, while the starter set–which comes only with the Labo software plus the VR Goggles and Blaster–costs $40. The remaining peripherals can then be purchased across two separate expansion sets for $20 each.

Game Of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke Survived Two Brain Aneurysms During The Show

Before Game of Thrones fans were introduced to the deposed and hunted royal Daenerys Targaryen, the actress behind the role was facing a life-threatening battle of her own. In a new essay for The New Yorker, Emilia Clarke revealed she suffered two brain aneurysms during her time on the show, the first occurring after wrapping filming of Season 1 of the HBO series.

“Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life,” she wrote. “I’ve never told this story publicly, but now it’s time.”

It all started on February 11, 2011–two months before the series premiered. Clarke was working out with a trainer when she felt “as though an elastic band were squeezing my brain.” She continued, “I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t. I told my trainer I had to take a break. Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain–shooting, stabbing, constricting pain–was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”

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Eventually, someone came to her aid and Clarke was transported to a hospital. It’s there she learned she was suffering from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which she described as “a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.” According to the actress, roughly one-third of patients who suffer those don’t survive. Soon after she underwent her first brain surgery.

The surgery left her alive but in extreme pain. Later, in a series of cognitive exercises given to her by a nurse, Clarke realized she couldn’t remember her name. She was experiencing a case of aphasia. “Nonsense words tumbled out of my mouth and I went into a blind panic,” she wrote. “I’d never experienced fear like that–a sense of doom closing in. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name.”

It took a week for the aphasia to pass and a month after her admittance, Clarke left the hospital. She did so with the knowledge that there was a second smaller aneurysm in her brain. “The doctors said, though, that it was small and it was possible it would remain dormant and harmless indefinitely,” she explained. “We would just keep a careful watch.”

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In the time that followed, Clarke often found herself weak, fatigued, and in pain. “Season 2 would be my worst. I didn’t know what Daenerys was doing,” she wrote. “If I am truly being honest, every minute of every day I thought I was going to die.”

Then, after finishing Season 3 of the series and spending some time in New York City, Clarke went in for one of her now-regular brain scans. It was discovered that the smaller aneurysm had doubled in size and she would again need to undergo surgery. Unlike the previous one, though, this procedure was not as successful.

“When they woke me, I was screaming in pain. The procedure had failed,” she recalled. “I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn’t operate again. This time they needed to access my brain in the old-fashioned way—through my skull. And the operation had to happen immediately.”

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Again, Clarke spent a month in the hospital recovering from brain surgery. And once again, it took a toll on her mentally. “I spent a month in the hospital again and, at certain points, I lost all hope,” she said. “I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. There was terrible anxiety, panic attacks. I was raised never to say, ‘It’s not fair’; I was taught to remember that there is always someone who is worse off than you. But, going through this experience for the second time, all hope receded. I felt like a shell of myself.”

What’s more, Clarke suffered in silence. She never went public with the struggles she was facing. Until now, that is. “In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes,” she wrote. “I am now at a hundred percent.” Beyond that, Clarke also launched the charitable organization SameYou, which has the goal of providing treatment for those suffering from brain injuries and strokes.

And now she’s looking toward another accomplishment: the end of Game of Thrones. “There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of Thrones,” she said. “I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next.”